ERICK VALENTIN MAURICIA, a founding and a leading persona of Ayawara West African Dance and Percussion Ensemble, brought his tradition, his knowledge and his experience of African music and dance to Glasgow from distant West Indies, African Guinea and France.
Erick gained a certificate in Art Restoration in Paris in 1979 and one in Performing Arts at The American Dance Centre in Paris in 1982. In 1989 and 1990 he taught Modern and Afro Jazz to dancers from The Bolshoi and Moiseiv Traditional Moscow Ballet in Russia. In 1996 he gained a Diploma in African Dance from The African Centre of Dance & Music in Paris.
Erick has choreographed, produced and performed for many productions and festivals involving modern and traditional dance, drumming, singing and stage plays in France, in Russia and in the UK. Apart from Ayawara, he has performed with Pan African Arts, Mara storytelling group, Guildasa and Maryhill Integration Network. In past, he was a member of various music bands and also performed with the Glasgow Gospel Choir.
For several years, Erick has taught African dance and drumming. He has done work with a large number of youth organisations in the community, e. g. The Princes Trust, Ultimate Sports/Arts, Culture & Sport and Glasgow Life, with schools and also with various organizations involving adults mainly. For many years, he led African dance and music classes at Dance House Glasgow. Currently, he leads after school music classes at Hillhead Primary. He works with the group of disadvantaged individuals based in East Kilbride (music, dance, sport) and with Maryhill Integration Network (drumming). Currently, he also participates and runs various drumming and dancing projects and this in conjunction with number of well-known Scottish organizations, groups and individuals.
Erick has trained for twenty years in Yoga, Martial Arts and Tai Chi techniques and has practiced meditation for some years. He also studied Counselling with Strathclyde University Glasgow and achieved the HNC in Sports Coaching and Development in 2008 at GCNS in Glasgow. He also taught Physical Education at The Glasgow Steiner School.
EVA CHOU GOUDIABY
ROMANY DEAR was born in the north of England and moved to Glasgow 4 years ago to study Environmental Art. Currently, Romany works as a part of GlasgowOpenDanceSchool together with Julia Scott and Ashanti Harris.
Although Romany has no professional dance training, she has a passion for movement that she has explored from a young age. She studied contemporary dance and has practised various forms of African dance. “I first went to one of Erick’s dance classes a year and a half ago where I met a group of incredibly talented individuals whom I now enjoy celebrating and performing West African rhythms with. I have been going to classes ever since and am now a proud and happy member of Ayawara.”
NUŠA FARIC, although born in Slovenia, grew up in the Hague, in the Netherlands. She moved to Glasgow in 2006 to study Psychology at University of Glasgow.
Since the age of seven, Nuša has been professionally developing her interest and skills in dance and music – firstly through annual dance workshops in contemporary dance, ballet and African dance at the festival Lent in Ljubljana. Later she was offered a contemporary dance education as a part of an outreach project run by a Slovenian dance company Flota.
Nuša continued her education in contemporary dance at Ex Nunc: Centrum voor Moderne dans in the Netherlands led by Joan van der Mast and also attended workshops with the renowned Netherlands Dans Theatre (NDT).
In October 2012, after returning from London to Glasgow upon completing her MSc in Health Psychology at the University College London, Nuša started dancing with Ayawara. “Ayawara is an important part of my life as it allows for complete relaxation of body and mind; I can passionately express myself through dance and music and build strength of body and character. I have gained confidence, broadened awareness of Glasgow’s cultural scene and I am continuously challenged by the group’s extensive skills.”
ASHANTI HARRIS, born in Guyana, studied Sculpture and Environmental Art in Glasgow. Currently, she works with the GlasgowOpenDanceSchool.
Ashanti began dancing with Afro-Caribbean and Contemporary dance at The Northern School of Contemporary Dance in Leeds and she stayed with this school for 6 years. After a long break from dancing and after moving to Glasgow, Ashanti met Erick and Bruno and joined Ayawara. She has been dancing with Ayawara ever since.
“Through Ayawara I have met some amazing people and got to dance to the most amazing music! I love the rhythms of African drums. Dancing with a live band feels so powerful. The music picks you up and pushes you forward and takes over your whole body.”
SARA PELLEJERO MAGALLÓN has devoted her life to music. In Spain, her homeland, Sara studied classical piano at Conservatoire of Zaragoza and later worked as a music teacher at University of Zaragoza. In Barcelona, she extended her studies for musical pedagogy and at University of Glasgow for Art Therapy. For 2 years, she also studied Gestalt psychology.
Sara is a song-writer and keyboardist, known by name Sara Gale. She has performed with bands like Sweet little sister, La gotta band, Burn one band and Legends (in Canary Islands), with Scottish folk band The Ubiquitous air band, with a capella trio Miss Jo and with capella jazz quartet The cotton street singers.
Sara became an Ayawara dancer in 2012. In the past, she has also danced in Dance Theatre with Ana Continante (Esperando en Olot, Danza y arquitectura, Dia contra el racismo) and for two years she performed as a salsa dancer. Currently, she attends dance classes in the Dance House Glasgow.
Sara has performed at the Briggait (“The hunt”) and at Studio 41 (“If a door is a door”) in Glasgow. She has also done shows with Clan Macondo in Glasgow and with a magician in Canary Islands.
In Spain, Sara worked as a choir conductor for 2 years.
For JULIA SCOTT, dancing has always been a space of freedom and inspiration. She has never had any professional training, however, she moved to Glasgow from Manchester four years ago to study Environmental Art and as she began to explore her art practice, movement, language and music became its core. “African dance is one place where the three come together in a community based on celebratory energy.”
Julia has been dancing with Ayawara for almost two years. Recently, she went to Ghana to study West African dancing and drumming.
Currently, Julia co-runs Glasgow Open Dance School, together with Romany and Ashanti, where she offers different regular dance classes for free. “My passion for movement continues to grow; I am dedicated to living a dancing life and am so lucky to be part of the Ayawara family! Come and see us!”
JASMINE ROBINSON (to be updated)
PAULA TREIMANE, Jewellery Artist, currently based in Lithuania